Iran Shows What It Says Is Murder Confession

TEHRAN — Iranian state television has broadcast what it portrayed as a murder confession by a woman who had been sentenced to death by stoning on adultery charges, in an unusual effort to deflect criticism of a case that has drawn international protests and an offer of asylum from the president of Brazil.

The woman’s videotaped statement, broadcast Wednesday night, was part of an extraordinary prime-time program — including interviews with a prosecutor and the woman’s friends and family — that suggested that the international uproar had put Iranian officials on the defensive, and left them struggling to defend their case for both domestic and international audiences.

The British government on Thursday condemned the video, saying Iran appeared to be inventing new murder charges against the woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, to justify her execution. Amnesty International and other human rights groups compared the videotaped statement to forced confessions made by Iranian political dissidents, who in some cases recanted afterward and said they had confessed under torture.

Lawyers for Ms. Ashtiani said that she had agreed to the interview only after being tortured in prison, and that her family members had been put under great pressure.

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